Although the Fender Rumble Stage 800 has been available for a few years now, it’s still right at the forefront of bass amp technology. You might think that the popularity of these amps is due purely to the name on the front – but after using this Stage 800 for a few weeks, I’d have to disagree
Admittedly, if you judged this amp by its appearance, you might be a little underwhelmed. The plain black tolex and dark grille cloth are very much of the ‘black box’ school of bass amp design, despite the large chrome logo on the front. Still, the sobriety of the appearance belies the tech inside.
This amp has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capability, meaning you can use your phone, tablet or laptop for a whole range of editing and extra features using the free Fender tone app.
Although the Rumble has an 800-watt – into 4 ohms – digital power module, the 10” baffle-mounted pressed-steel speakers made by Eminence, and the sturdy cabinet made from dense birch ply, means that at 39 pounds (17.7 kilos) it’s not as lightweight as some, although it’s still a single-handed carry.
Still, it needs to be tough, and the twin ports and huge ceramic magnets on the drivers mean that the amp will easily handle powerful low frequencies from the power amp. Taking care of the high end is a switchable compression driver rather than the cheaper option of a piezo unit, which should ensure a smooth response right across the upper range of your bass.
In fact, the Rumble is extremely well constructed from quality components and materials. A good example of this is the neat internal lining of the cabinet with white acoustic wadding – it’s nice to know that such care has been taken, even in areas you wouldn’t normally get to see.
The top control panel is deceptively simple, with just five control knobs – Gain, a three-band EQ and Master, all of which are programmable. In addition there are three ‘layer’ buttons, four ‘utility’ buttons, an encoder wheel with ‘press to switch’ function and the jack input, aux in and headphone out.
On the back of the amp, the XLR outputs are stereo, as are the FX send and return. There’s also a Speakon output for an extension cab, a USB output port for recording to computer and an input for the included MGT-4 footswitch.
In terms of technology, Fender have thrown everything at the Rumble. Bluetooth connectivity has been with us for a while now – but I haven’t seen an amp that you can connect to Wi-Fi before. Setting this up is straightforward, and once you’re hooked up, you can download new effects and artist-created patches, and update the firmware to make sure you have the latest version.
Next, it’s time to download the Fender Tone App to your Android phone or iPhone. Connect to the amp via Bluetooth, and here’s where things get interesting. All of the settings for the Rumble Stage 800 are on the app.
It’s so convenient to select and edit from your phone rather than peering at the screen on the amp and fiddling with multi-function controls, although if you do choose to use the amp interface, it’s logical and quick once you’re used to it. Even while using the controls via your phone, you can still make adjustments to the EQ and amp volume.
All of the great Fender bass amplifiers are available as models on the app, as well as versions of legendary backline such as Ampeg’s B15 and SVT, the mighty Marshall stack and many more. Effects-wise, there’s everything you could possibly want, with over 40 available, including some killer synth and envelope filters: I recommend the Funk Envelope effect with a little reverb.
The overdrives and distortions are impressive too, and if they’re not quite what you’re looking for, they can easily be edited, stored and recalled using the footswitch. This also allows you to access the impressive 60-second looper feature in real time. Mastering all the features of the amp is a bit of a learning curve, but accessing all the effects and amp models is easy – especially when using the app.
Of course, the most important question is ‘How does this amp sound and perform?’ Fortunately, even without all the tech this would still be a great bass combo. Its sound is clear and full and if needed, very, very loud. In fact, the smaller 40-watt Rumble studio amp will be a better fit for players who don’t need this much volume.
It’s no wonder that this amp has become so popular with bass players of all levels. It’s just so versatile – and given its quality, digital spec and superb sound, I think that the Rumble Stage 800 is already a classic.
- Price: $999.99 / £869
- Made in: China
- Power: 400w RMS at 8 ohms or 800w RMS at 4 ohms
- Speakers: 2 x 10” Eminence plus switchable compression driver
- Features: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled 800w at 4ohm Class D power amp, Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Master controls, 15 amp models and 40 effects, Speakon connector, stereo effects and loop XLR line out, Aux input, headphones out, USB out, MGT4 footswitch included
- Weight: 39 lbs / 17.7 kg
- Dimensions: H 23.7” x W 19” x D 14” / H 602 x W 483 x D 356mm
- Contact: Fender